The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Japan has a big deer problem. The last native wolf was killed in 1905 and the deer population, which has exploded since then, is ravaging the shitake mushroom crop. And shitake farmers take shit from no one, man or beast.
To cull the deer herd some are calling for the reintroduction of wolves. This plan doesn’t stand a chance because it makes total sense. So, the alternative plan is to encourage more people to take up hunting. But Japan is a densely urban country with strict gun laws and few hunters (Potential NRA talking point: do you want America overrun by deer? Your garden is at stake!). One element of this extended-hunting plan is to make hunting fashionable for young urbanites (like the financial planner in Tokyo who is quoted saying “deer are too cute to eat.”). Regardless of how this turns out, it’s essential that new city-slicker hunters are armed with information.
Over the years I’ve done a bit of hunting myself – every fall I hunt down newspaper stories about hunting accidents. And from these I’ve developed three simple guidelines for new Japanese hunters:
Know Your Terrain
In 2006 a man in Oregon shot a deer. But he only injured it, and the deer ran away. So the guy gave chase, on foot. Two days later another pair of hunters found his body at the base of a 70 foot cliff.
Know Your Opponent
In 2005 a guy in Idaho killed a deer, but only took the head. He was walking down a Forest Service road, holding the deer head in front of his own, when another hunter spotted him from a distance. The second hunter failed to ask himself why a deer would be walking upright on his hind legs down a forest road. There are now two guys in Idaho who no longer hunt, one by choice.
Know It’s Not A Game
In 2004 two buddies were hunting in Oregon. One guy stepped away to take a leak. Returning to camp, he spotted a dead, frozen squirrel on the ground and decided to have some fun. He grabbed the carcass and crept up to a fallen log. Crouching from sight, he raised the squirrel and shook it so that it looked like it was dancing on top of the log, cabaret style. His buddy swung and then blew his friend’s hand off. The moral: If you think hunting is like those video games you play back in Tokyo, you might want to talk to Lefty first.
Perhaps there are other new pursuits to take up in the new year.